African-American festival planned

Film: Heritage Cinema House to celebrate black directors and actors.

April 27, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Another film festival is being added to Baltimore's burgeoning film scene, this one dedicated to African-American cinema.

Captivity, a four-day festival slated for July 5-8 at the Heritage Cinema House, will showcase somewhere between 15 and 18 films either made by African-American directors or featuring predominantly black casts, says Heritage founder Michael Johnson.

Noting the success of other niche-oriented festivals, such as the Jewish Film Festival and MicroCineFest, Johnson says it's time Baltimore staged a film celebration geared toward its predominantly African-American population. Although the Maryland Film Festival will hold one of its panel discussions at the Heritage and has included several films by and about blacks on its program (including the Maryland Producers Club-financed "Lift"; the documentary "Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise"; and Damon Wayans in "Harlem Aria"), he said more needs to be done.

"Jed Dietz does what he can, bringing black films to the Maryland Film Festival, but obviously he can't do it all," says Johnson, who serves on the MFF's advisory board.

And he stresses that there's no shortage of product. "We get a lot of calls from a lot of African-American filmmakers who just can't get their stuff seen," he says.

The festival starts 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5 with a screening of director Oscar Micheaux's 1925 silent film, "Body & Soul," which features the screen debut of Paul Robeson. A soundtrack for the film will be performed live by the Frederick Douglass High School Jazz Ensemble, and the film will be followed by an opening night party featuring the Blue Lights.

Tickets for opening night cost $100 and may be bought by calling 410-539-0085. Tickets for the remaining films of the festival - the schedule has yet to be finalized - will cost $10 for most adults, and $8 for students and seniors.

Cinema Sundays

"With a Friend Like Harry," a French suspense thriller about a family having a lousy vacation and a man determined to make things better, is this weekend's feature for Cinema Sundays at the Charles.

Film critic Mike Giuliano will serve as host for the 10:30 a.m. screening. Complimentary coffee and bagels will be served at 9:45 a.m. Tickets cost $15 at the door; four-film mini-memberships in Cinema Sundays cost $52. Information: 410-727-3464, or visit www.cinemasundays.com.

`Coming Home' screening

"Coming Home," director Hal Ashby's look at a Vietnam vet who lost the use of his legs in the war, will be screened tonight as part of the Film & Social Consciousness Video Series, "War - What Is It Good For?" sponsored by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee. The film won Oscars for Jane Fonda and Jon Voight.

The free screening is at 7:30 p.m. at the American Friends Service Committee offices, 4806 York Road. Information: 410-323-7200 or 410-377-7987.

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